EU urges member states to coordinate alleviation of confinement measures

Brussels, Apr 15 (efe-epa).- The European Union on Wednesday urged its member states to coordinate the gradual lifting of coronavirus confinement measures as countries such as Denmark and Austria began easing their lockdowns while France and Spain pursued extensions.

In a bid to thwart a disorderly and fractious process, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen presented a roadmap outlining a common framework for easing restrictive measures in place in every EU state.

“While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, at a minimum, member states should notify each other and the Commission in due time through the Health Security Committee before they announce lifting measures and take into account their views,” the Commission said.

The EU’s executive branch said unilateral decision-making in this area would have “negative” consequences and could result in political friction.

The roadmap was unveiled after some EU nations had already begun rolling back their emergency coronavirus measures.

Denmark on Wednesday re-opened schools and nurseries a month after they were closed to curtail the spread of Covid-19.

Germany has been mulling a similar move and Austria this week allowed some small businesses to resume operations

Such policies were in stark contrast to some of Europe’s hardest-hit nations: Spain, Italy and France.

Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez on Wednesday told lawmakers he would seek to extend the nationwide lockdown until 11 May. The current measure has kept the majority of the country’s 47 million people at home since 14 March.

Spain has registered more than 177,000 cases and 18,579 deaths since the outbreak began.

French president Emmanuel Macron on Monday extended his nation’s lockdown to 11 May, while in Italy, the national confinement measures are due to remain in place until at least 3 May, although some bookshops and stationery shops were allowed to open this week.

“This roadmap is not a signal that containment measures can be lifted as of now but intends to provide a frame for Member State decisions. In general, we recommend a gradual approach and every action should be continuously monitored,” Von der Leyen tweeted.

Any decision to ease these measures should be based on the infection rate in a country, its healthcare capacity and its ability to track the virus, according to the framework.

Each move to alleviate restrictions should be followed by a period of around one month to allow close monitoring of its effects, the document added.

It recommended that any resumption of activity in schools and universities should be done on the condition of continued social distancing measures, such as smaller classroom sizes, and that retail activity should be tightly controlled with policies limiting the number of people allowed in a store at any time.

The Commission encouraged member states to start lifting measures at a local level first, which would allow them to tailor policies depending on regional needs within the country.

Coordination was also paramount when it came to lifting internal and external border closures and restoring freedom of movement in the Schengen Area, the Commission said.

Economic activity should also be phased back in, allowing businesses to adapt to the changing landscape and remote working should continue to be encouraged to avoid gatherings in office spaces.

As well as registering the worst-health crises in the EU, Italy and Spain are two of Western Europe’s most cash-strapped nations and they have repeatedly called on the EU to alleviate the economic burden of exiting the pandemic.

The EU said on Wednesday it would develop a recovery plan for its next long-term budget.

Related Articles

Back to top button